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If Congress fails to reach an agreement before March 1, automatic, across-the-board spending cuts—also known as the sequester—will go into effect. The cuts will have real consequences for real people—especially teachers, young children in low-income families, and students with special needs.
Earlier this month, Secretary Arne Duncan testified before the Senate about the negative effects of sequestration. “When the cuts hit, they will hurt the most vulnerable students worst,” Duncan said during his testimony.
Duncan went on to explain that sequestration would cut Title I by $725 million, affecting 1.2 million disadvantaged students, and risk the jobs of about 10,000 teachers and aides. Other cuts include $600 million in special education, requiring states and districts to cover the cost of approximately 7,200 teachers, aides, and other staff. In Head Start, some 70,000 students could be kicked out. “Doing that to our most vulnerable students is economically foolish and morally indefensible,” said Duncan.
President Obama has provided a plan to avoid these cuts using a balanced approach, and the White House has also released state-by-state reports showing how sequester will impact jobs and middle class families.
During a Sunday morning appearance on “Face the Nation,” Duncan noted that “We don’t have to be in this situation. This is not rocket science. We could solve this tomorrow if folks had the will to compromise, to come to the table and do the right thing for children and to try and keep growing the middle class.”
- State-by-State Reports – Overall Impact
- Updated: Estimated Dollar Impact of the Sequester on States under the Department’s 12 Largest Formula Grant Programs PDF (107K) | MS Excel (112K)
- Title I Impact Largest 100 Districts (xls)
- Article: Education Secretary Decries Sequestration
A little more than a week after the State of the Union address where President Obama spoke about redesigning high schools to equip graduates with the skills that employers demand, Secretary Duncan and several Department of Education staff (myself included) visited a school in New York City that meets this challenge head on. Located on Governors Island and accessible only by boat, Urban Assembly New York Harbor School was established back in 2003 with one goal in mind: preparing students for success in college and careers through restoration of the local marine environment.
All Harbor School students enroll in the New York State Regents-based academic courses and then select one of six career and technical education (CTE) programs–Aquaculture, Marine Biology Research, Marine Service Technology, Ocean Engineering, Scientific Diving or Vessel Operations. Through a combination of school-based, harbor-based and community-based activities, students build and operate boats, spawn and harvest millions of oysters, design submersible remotely operated vehicles and conduct real-life research. The school boasts a professional advisory committee of more than 60 businesses, industry groups, postsecondary partners and foundations.
Through their courses of study, students earn industry-recognized certifications and licenses, as well as postsecondary credits that will give them a leg up regardless of their immediate plans after high school. Some students clearly had aspirations of on-water careers. (The captain of our ferry over to the island was a Harbor School graduate.) Other students were interested in engineering, architecture or construction. Still others were interested in a completely unrelated field. For each student, what seemed to matter most was the hands-on, real-life application of learning. They indicated that school was exciting, challenging and relevant. Harbor School’s 430 students come from all five of New York’s boroughs, some beginning their trek to Governors Island as early as 5:30 in the morning—first by bus, then subway and, finally, by boat. Now that’s commitment!
At the end of our tour on Feb. 22, one student asked Secretary Duncan what he had learned. With National CTE Month coming to a close, Arne responded by saying that now, more than ever, he is convinced that this country’s debate about whether to prepare students for college or careers is artificial. He indicated that the conversation really needs to shift toward how to prepare all students for college and careers, and that Harbor School was a phenomenal example of just how to do that.
“This school is on to something really, really special,” Arne said. “This is a very different vision of what a high school can be. What if we had more of these?” Graduation rates would go up, he predicted, and dropout rates would go down.
Harbor School matches closely the President’s vision for the future of American high schools. Stay tuned for more details on his plan.
Sharon Miller is director of ED’s Division of Academic and Technical Education in the Office of Vocational and Adult Education.
The result would be a system with just one grant program, one loan program, and one tax break.
The Obama administration says federally financed research should be made freely available within 12 months of publication in a peer-reviewed journal.
When University of Iowa students applied for gun permits, the sheriff got data about them from the university. Legal experts say similar cases are likely to arise.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau said it was looking to offer distressed borrowers more-flexible repayment and refinancing options.
Prior to Secretary Arne Duncan “schooling” the competition during his third appearance in the NBA Celebrity All Star Game in Houston last Friday, he sat down with former NBA All Star Allan Houston, current Golden State Warrior Harrison Barnes, and the WNBA’s Maya Moore to speak with five high school student-athletes from across the country during the Department of Education’s first Google Hangout. The discussion centered on the importance of education and how sports can play an important role in maturation on and off the court.
During the live Hangout moderated by CNN’s John King, the students quizzed Secretary Duncan—who played college and professional basketball—and the NBA/WNBA players on how they balanced the demands of education and athletics, as well as discussed the importance of being a leader and a role model in the community.
Sequoia High School (Redwood, Calif.) senior point guard Alaina Woo said it best, “It’s really important that you surround yourself with role models who are passionate about basketball but can go beyond the sport and see the importance in having a balance in life.”
Watch the NBA/Department of Education Google + Hangout here:
Click here for an alternate version of the video with an accessible player.
Kelsey Donohue is a senior at Marist College (N.Y.), and an intern in ED’s Office of Communications and Outreach
How can we best prepare children and adolescents to thrive in the 21st century—an era of rapidly evolving technology and new opportunities to learn, collaborative and global knowledge work, changing workforce needs, and complex economic and national security interests? Our focus on aspects of academic success such as attainment of content knowledge is necessary, however, creating opportunities to engage and develop a much richer set of skills is critical. Today, this includes exploring the potential of “noncognitive” factors—attributes, dispositions, social skills, attitudes, and intrapersonal resources, independent of intellectual ability—that high-achieving individuals draw upon to succeed.
The Office of Educational Technology at the U.S. Department of Education asked SRI’s Center for Technology in Learning to take a close look at a core set of noncognitive factors—grit, tenacity, and perseverance. These are the factors that facilitate an individual’s capacity to strive for and succeed at fulfilling long-term and higher-order goals, and persist in the face of challenges and setbacks. We asked for this work to be done with an eye toward identifying the potential new roles that technology might play.
Last week, OET released Expanding Evidence Approaches for Learning in a Digital World, a report that examines the rapid evolution of new technologies to capture, organize and analyze vast quantities of data, and we were interested in the role of new types of data and analytic capabilities in supporting grit, tenacity, and perseverance.
Building from a broad review of the research literature and interviews with thought leaders, this brief examines the extent to which grit, tenacity, and perseverance are malleable and teachable, how to measure these factors, and how to design learning environments that promote them. It includes key conclusions and recommendations tailored to the needs and responsibilities of educators, administrators, policymakers, technology designers, parents, and researchers.
We welcome your input as we continue the dialogue around designing the best possible learning environments for ensuring every student’s success. We are interested in hearing what you think!
Bernadette Adams is a senior policy analyst at the U.S. Department of Education
The nonprofit is giving university partners two options for sharing in the money its MOOCs bring in. But first, they have to bring it in.
The report offers breakdowns on scores by gender and racial backgrounds, and a glimpse into the examinees' intended fields of study.
The former student says the university withdrew a job offer after she filed a complaint alleging harassment in another campus job.
The need to improve the country’s education system is urgent, according to the Co-Chairs of the Equity and Excellence Commission who formally presented their report to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan on Tuesday. The Commission’s report, “For Each and Every Child,” highlights the need to eliminate “education disparities affecting millions of underserved and disadvantaged students.”
The 27-member Commission includes scholars, teachers’ union leaders, state and local education officials, and education reformers and advocates, and was charged to provide advice to the Secretary “on the disparities in meaningful educational opportunities that give rise to the achievement gap, with a focus on systems of finance,” as well as ways that the federal government can address such disparities.
While the commission was autonomous and its recommendations do not necessarily represent the views of the Department of Education, Secretary Duncan said, “The Commission has sounded a powerful and important alarm about the distance we still have to go to improve education for every American child.”
This past weekend in San Diego, I had the opportunity to participate in the 4th Annual National Educator Conference focused on creating safe, supportive, and inclusive schools for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth. A goal of the conference, presented by the Center for Excellence in School Counseling and Leadership (CESCaL), was to bring together education leaders and LGBT experts to empower and provide educators and school personnel with the knowledge and skills necessary to create safe, welcoming and inclusive school environments for all youth, regardless of their sexual orientation.
Additionally, the conference focused on providing educators with the tools and resources to prevent and respond to bullying of LGBT youth, as well as empowering them to make the changes in their schools to make sure all kids are safe and thriving. I met with so many amazing educators; it truly was empowering.
Safe schools are not only free from overt forms of physical violence or substance abuse, but work proactively to support, engage, and include all students. Unfortunately, too many schools are not safe for LGBT youth. According to GLSEN’s National School Climate Survey, nearly 8 out of 10 LGBT youth were harassed at school. We know that students who are bullied are more likely to have depression, anxiety, and other health concerns, as well as decreased academic achievement and participation. When students don’t feel safe, they are less likely to learn and more likely to give up on school altogether. Unfortunately, we also know that LGBT youth are disproportionately subject to discipline practices that exclude them from the classroom, and make up close to 15% of youth in the juvenile justice system.
Given these statistics, it’s not surprising that LGBT youth are at an increased risk for suicidal thoughts and behaviors, suicide attempts, and suicide. We need to ensure that educators have the tools and resources to not only protect LGBT students from harassment and discrimination, but to ensure that they thrive in schools, not drop out!
One of the students who attended the event came with his high school teacher from Washington State. He had reached out to the conference organizers after bullying in school left him feeling defeated and isolated. They attended with the hope that it would transform the student’s life in a positive way and enable his teacher to help and learn more to help other LGBT students. In a follow-up to the conference organizer, the student thanked Vinnie Pompei, the Project Director & Conference Chair, for the “awesome” opportunity to attend, and acknowledged that this is a great beginning to share information learned from the conference with students, teachers and others at his school.
Another student who participated in the conference said, “I get bullied every day. This started in 1st grade and I’m in 8th grade now. Suicide was an option…many times. [But] I’m not going anywhere…because I’m stronger than that.”
We need to work together and empower both students and teachers and make sure they have the tools to create changes in schools. I spoke with many educators who perceive stopping anti-gay bullying as risky and fear retribution. Teachers also need support in speaking out.
As I addressed the conference, I asked the individual educators to do four things to help improve the school experience of our LGBT youth.
- Create positive school climates for all students – this happens only through a deliberate, school-wide effort, and with the participation of families and communities.
- Be proactive and visible to LGBT youth – they cannot know they are supported, valued, and appreciated, if the adults in the building aren’t there to tell them so.
- Identify “safe spaces,” such as counselors’ offices, designated classrooms, or student organizations, where LGBT youth can receive support from administrators, teachers, or other school staff.
- Encourage student-led and student-organized school clubs that promote a safe, welcoming, and accepting school environment (e.g., gay-straight alliances, which are school clubs open to youth of all sexual orientations).
- Understand student mental health issues. Everyone can play a role here; not only school counselors or nurses, but teachers and administrators that can identify warning signs, like sudden changes in behavior.
- And importantly – they are not alone. While educators play a critical role in providing support to LGBT youth, they can build partnerships with local health and mental health agencies, community based organizations, and child welfare. And, there are federal resources to provide guidance and information on how to make schools safe, supportive, and inclusive. For example, check out www.stopbullying.gov.
I would like to extend my deepest thanks to the courageous teachers who are working every day to make this happen. Thankfully, educators have the power to create change in their schools, supporting students and saving lives.
Michael Yudin is acting assistant secretary for ED’s Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services
Tax breaks and performance measures can be used to improve the design and delivery of aid, say advocates.
The growth was well below 2011's 8.2-percent rise and, when adjusted for inflation, came to an increase of just 0.2 percent, says the Council for Aid to Education.
High-school students taking Advanced Placement examinations last year got some of the highest scores since the College Board published its first report on the exams.
The challenges facing grant applicants will worsen if across-the-board federal budget cuts, known as sequestration, take effect on March 1.
The president has apologized for using a racially sensitive episode in U.S. history to make a point, but critics say the way he apologized was confusing.